Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Denton Ryan has great expectations as it starts football practice
The school year may not start for another few weeks, but for many football teams across the state, summer unofficially ended Monday.
Monday marked the first day of workouts for teams that did not participate in spring practice. The first day contact is allowed for those teams is Friday.
As the band marched in the parking lot in the distance, Denton Ryan players strapped on their blue helmets and started their quest to return to the playoffs for the 14th straight year.
“We’re a little more confident this year,” Ryan coach Joey Florence said. “I told the kids today, anything short of a state championship is not acceptable.
“I think last year we were trying to feel our way through [Class] 5A a little bit. But this year, there’s no issues with it. We expect to go make a run at it.”
In Ryan’s first season in 5A since 2005, the Raiders went 6-5, tied for second in District 5-5A and clinched a playoff berth in the last week of the season. Ryan was bounced out of the playoffs by Cedar Hill in the area round. Cedar Hill went on to lose to Katy in the 5A Division II state title game.
Florence said a month of resting in July yielded an excitement to return to the field. He said what’s most important in the first week of practice is teaching his players and getting them conditioned.
“It’s always rusty,” Florence said. “We give them the month of July off, so yeah, they’re not polished by any means. But we’re ahead of where we were last year. It’s a veteran squad.”
Coming off last season’s third-round playoff exit, Argyle was to get practice started. And the Eagles were ahead of the curve in installing a new offense thanks to some good work in the spring with new offensive coordinator Shay Nanny.
Argyle coach Todd Rodgers said the offense will look the same to the untrained eye.
“I think it was critical that the superintendent and board of trustees allowed me to bring in the offensive coordinator in the spring,” Rodgers said. “That was the most important part was to get that done. He got to work for approximately 40 days with the kids [during the athletics class period], and I think that’s the most important aspect of adjusting to the new offense.
“Him working during the spring and getting the terminology and offense installed — or at least 75 percent of it — was critical to where we are right now. I’d hate to be learning the offense right now.”
Argyle’s Ian Sadler completed three of his five pass attempts for one touchdown last season, but that’s not why he earned a scholarship offer to Texas Tech.
Sadler proved to be one of the state’s most versatile and dynamic players at any classification last season, and his role with the team included some play at quarterback, mainly in goal-line situations.
Sadler rushed for 404 yards and 15 touchdowns while catching 50 passes for 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns. He might see an increased role in quarterback play this season as a senior.
“We’ll continue to do that and utilize him at several different positions,” Rodgers said of Sadler. “He’ll get time at quarterback just like he did last year, but he can throw the ball, too.”
Argyle’s starting quarterback will be Brandon Boyzuick, who threw for 1,989 yards and 19 touchdowns. But Sadler may do more than just line up under center at the goal line or in short-yardage situations.
“Quarterback isn’t new to him,” Rodgers said. “He was a very young quarterback for us, and we saw his best chance to get on varsity, when he was young, was at wide receiver. We’re going to utilize him in whatever capacity we can utilize him to win games this year.”
A quarterback competition is one of the story lines for Aubrey heading into the season.
Senior Mason Robinson and sophomore Rylee Hellman are jousting for the starting job, but coach Mike Segleski is hoping the senior can claim the job.
“We are hoping Mason can win the job because Rylee is our top cornerback, he’s our punt returner and he’s one of our top two receivers,” Segleski said. “He can run the ball well also. I’d rather see other things he can do well for us.”
With the passing game lacking last year, Segleski said there was a focus on the aerial attack in practice, along with a few tweaks on the defensive side.
“Besides being hot, it was pretty good,” Segleski said. “Defensively, we are changing a little bit. We are running a hybrid 3-4 system and offensively, we aren’t changing. We worked on fundamentals.
“It seems like a joke to a lot of people, but we hope to throw for 100 yards a game. We are going to run 300 or 400 yards a game. We are a running team. This year, our goal is to work on our passing game. It doesn’t seem like a lot of yards, but if we can get that we think we will have a chance to win ball games and be competitive. We can’t have people daring us to throw the ball. We have to change that.”
Aubrey also has some returning players who have recovered from injuries.
“We had a 101 kids come out,” Segleski said. “We had one of our best offensive linemen, Weston Osterman, lost in the first game of preseason last year. He broke his tibia and fibula. He’s back, and he’s been fully released [to play].”
Fullback Sam Heath and running back Daniel Longhenry were also lost last year to ACL injuries.
Pilot Point is looking to build on a 7-3 season, and coach Rob Best was encouraged Monday.
“About 85 players are ready to go,” Best said. “We got started and for the most part, it was very positive. We had good energy. I was very pleased with how the first day went. We had new coaches, and they fit right in and they kids responded.”
There isn’t a lot of experience on the offensive line.
“We’ve got some depth at the skill positions, so we’ll have some good numbers at that,” Best said. “Our biggest problem is our offensive line is pretty undetermined. We’ve got to identify three or four linemen. We’ve got two seniors. Other than that, we’re relying on [junior varsity] players and players that haven’t played that position. We need to develop a real strong unit. If we can do that, we have an opportunity for success.”
Fourteen years ago at this time, Glen Schuelke was starting a program at Prairiland. When he took the job at Ponder last month, he set himself up to be in a tough situation, with practice just around the corner.
On Monday, that day came for Schuelke, and the veteran coach was happy with his new team’s practice.
“I thought it went well,” said Schuelke, who had approximately 56 players report on the first day. “For the first day and me being new in a new system, I thought it went well.”
Schuelke believes Ponder is further along in the process than Prairiland was when he arrived there in 1999.
Argyle Liberty Christian
Though the Warriors reported for practice Monday, the team won’t begin practicing until Tuesday after doing testing in the 40-yard dash Monday.
“We saw some pretty good times in the 40s, which was exciting,” coach Greg Price said. “A couple of 4.4s and some 4.5s, so that’s encouraging with the speed we have. We knew we had some good speed, but it’s exciting to see some of those numbers improve.”
When practice begins today, the Warriors will begin trying to sort out a jam-packed quarterback competition between Drew Hunnicutt, Travis Ball and Colby Moore, but will have the luxury of having an accomplished tailback in JonAaron Howell.
“The kids are pumped,” Price said. “We have a great, spirited senior class and a good bunch of kids. They’re excited about getting started.”
Ben Baby, Adam Boedeker and Patrick Hayslip contributed to this report.